Seafoods 3: Two Ways of Preparing Shark Fin (魚翅二法)


List of Seafoods::Two Ways of Preparing Shark Fin
Shark fin does not soften easily and needs to be boiled for around two days before it is supple enough to eat. There are two ways of preparing shark fin; the first involves simmering it with good ham, good chicken broth, fresh bamboo shoots, and a few grams of rock sugar. The second way uses only chicken broth and finely shredded radish with the shark fin pulled apart into shreds. When cooked, both radish and shark fin meld together in the bowl such that a diner cannot tell one apart from the other. The method using the ham has less liquid, while the method using radish has more.

Mmmmmm…such a tasty offering. But alas, no. (Credit: chee.hong)

A well prepared shark fin must be a harmoniously balanced in its smoothness and suppleness.[1] If one serves sea cucumbers that flicks one’s nose and shark fin that bounces off the plate, it would be told as joke amoung one’s guests. When Taoist Wu serves shark fin at home they do not use the bottom scale containing portions and prefers to use only the thicker top portions, a rather unique method of preparation. The shredded radish used for shark fin must be immersed and soaked in water twice in order to remove its odour. I have also tasted the shark fin and vegetables stir-fry at the home of Guo Gengli, which was superb! It is too bad they did not pass on the technique for preparing this dish.


Random notes:
[1]: The texture of shark fin is smooth against the tongue, firm against the teeth, and when bitten into, gives a delectable gelatinous snap that nothing can substitute. Those not initiated into the more refined aspects of Chinese cuisine cannot begin to appreciate the exquisite textures and mouth-feels that the cuisine offers, not least what a bowl of shark fin brings to the table, literally. In my opinion, of all the delicacies in this section, none can rival the texture and flavours of well prepared shark fin. Still, I find the ecological consequences and current harvesting methods of it unacceptable. Thus until we find a way of farming sharks, I will not buy or eat the stuff. As such I resign myself to eating fish maw, which while pretty good still cannot beat shark fin



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